The End-Times of Markusz Zielinski (or End-Times for short) is my current work in progress.
The premise is a simple one. The universe is ending. Not all at once but in pieces. Vast stellar systems are collapsing in upon themselves in frighteningly quick time that suggests even universal laws are not constant. All this is happening centuries from now. Humanity has spread far and wide to establish ‘The Thousand Worlds’ – a collection of self-governing systems loosely held together by trade. Even the space occupied by a thousand worlds is nothing to the scale of the universe, so it was only 20 years before the story starts that the collapse phenomenon – named the Effect – was observed. Since then local observations of the Effect have increased exponentially, such that human space is under threat. One planet has been identified as likely to be the last place the Effect takes hold and so humanity is evacuating from a thousand worlds to one.
It’s not hard to see that the premise springs from the fact that Earth is quickly becoming unlivable and the types of upheaval the people of The Thousand Worlds are experiencing will be played out (albeit on a smaller scale) here. While our own predicament is teetering on hopelessness, at least in fiction I can offer some hope: one brilliant mathematician and a dead engineer may discover a way to save the last planet and the remnants of humanity. But it’s not going to be easy.
I’m about thirty thousand words in and enjoying myself immensely because, as doom-laden as the premise is, the characters are intelligent, snarky and fun to be with. It helps that I have ‘dream cast’ my book so I can really get a handle on how my characters look and act. I’ve done this before for the Lenticular.
Who wouldn’t want to spend an entire book with these guys?
The novel is based on a far more angst ridden short story that I could never quite get right. Everything else I’ve ever written before and since has been finished and published so I didn’t want to give up on it. But having said that, the novel is very different. The basic premise of humanity being stuck on a single planet while the sky becomes starless is there. And the idea of doomed love. But my protagonist is very different and the whole setting has expanded greatly.
The other thing about the plot of End-Times is: I don’t know how it ends. Usually I plot out the major beats of a story right to the end, but this time I have about two-thirds plotted out. There are so many ways the story could go for an ending, I’d like to give myself time to see if I can come up with something truly different – a complete phase change for the third act in the same was as the Effect is a complete break from anything we’ve encountered in the universe. We’ll see. It’s kind of nice having that element of risk hanging over me.
Can I pull it off?